Frank A. Reilly
H <^> to Raise
Frank A. Reilly
The Homer Squab Co
Lindenhurst, Long Island
LIBRARY of CONGRESS
Two CoDies Received
DEC 22 1904
CLASS «*- XXc. Noi
/O t^Sf (d
jFrantt a. Kftllp
Lindenhurst, L. 1.
PUT IN TYPES
AND PRINTED AT THE
GOERCK ART PRESS
BROADWAY AT olst ST.
DUETXCt tlie past few years I have been constantly receiving letters
from all over the country asking for information and instruc-
tions regarding the raising of squabs.
Lack of time and pressure of business have prevented me giving
my customers and correspondents the benefit of my experience and
success in this industry. I have therefore decided to issue this booklet,
and in it I will endeavor to tell, as concisely as possible, the things
to do if one is anxious to enter this business for profit, also the things
to avoid doing.
Experience, as every one knows, is an expensive teacher. I have
been like many others and started out thinking I knew more than was
needed. Every year I have learned something new. I have been a
close student, and have studied the ways and habits of pigeons for
years. Every l)ook I could secure on the subject was eagerly devoured
and thoroughly digested.
From poultry magazines, to which • I have subscribed, I have
learned and read of the experiences of many breeders; and although
I could not sanction all the methods they employed, I frequently
secured information which later proved profitable to me.
People have written asking me to suggest some manual or treatise
they should get to guide them in raising squabs and pigeons. This
I could not do, as I do not remember reading any such work which
1 could conscientiously endorse. In each and every one there has
always been something of which I did not approve.
I have always contended, and always shall, that to make a suc-
cess of anything you have to begin right. There is no use to start
out with poor birds. They are cheap to begin with, but later prove
expensive. A beginner should start with the best stock, well mated.
Xaturally, they cost more, but in the end they are more profitable.
as they produce healthier, fatter squabs than the common ordinary
pigeons. I favor the Homer strain, and am well satisfied with my
success with them. They produce very fat offspring which readily
finds a market. In fact, there is a demand for thin scrawny squabs,
but they do not bring the price of fat, meaty ones.
If a man starts to raise poultry he will find that it will not pay
him unless he has three or four thousand fowls. These would require
the undivided attention of two or three men. The poultrymen of tlie
middle West who raise tens of thousands of chickens can ship their
products in large quantities at a cheap freight rate, and generally
undersell the breeder who is nearer the market, but doing business
on a smaller scale. In the squab business it is different, as one man
can easily attend to 1,000 or 1,500 birds without devoting his entire
time to them.
There is a growing demand for squabs — North, South, East and
West. They make one of the daintiest dishes on a hotel bill-of-fare,
and are especially recommended for invalids.
To a beginner, I would suggest starting with fifteen or twenty
pairs of breeders, gradually increasing the flock until the returns
make it a profitable business.
Anyone who has a small amount of patience, starts with good
stock, and follows the instructions contained in this book, can feel
reasonably assured that his venture will turn out profitably.
Fkaxk a. Eeilly,
JSIanager and Proprietor.
Homer Squab Co..
Lone: Island, IST. Y.
Starting with Good Stock
THE beginner should exercise a great deal of care in the selection
of the birds to commence with. Do not buy the plant of some
one who has become disgusted with the business and is ready to quit.
His birds are probably poor and sick, and he has probably neglected
them to such an extent that they are worthless as breeders. Get your
stock from a man who makes it a business to raise and sell breeders
Insist upon getting young, vigorous birds, a year old at least. Pigeons
breed until eight or ten years old. I am partial to the Homer breed.
Experience with several varieties has strengthened my preference for
this strain. I do not like the Duchesse birds on account of their
feathered legs. To cross them with Eunts or Homers requires too
much time and attention. The Dragoon is a bird that is much ad-
mired. It is a fine show bird, but in my opinion is excelled for squab
raising by the straight Homer, which are excellent breeders, take good
care of their young and very prolific. The Eunt is a large bird —
and very expensive, some of them selling from $6 to $10 a pair, and
iire therefore too costly to a man who wants pigeons for squab raising.
Furthermore, they do not take the best of care of their offspring, do
not breed frequently enough to make them desirable stock.
There are a number of other breeds, such as Tumblers, Silver,
Silver Dun, or White Antwerps, Fantails, etc.. but there is objection
to each as squab raisers. What is most desired is fat, meaty, clean
legged squabs, and the Homer breed in my estimation is the best stock
to produce these.
If a beginner gets a good-sized flock together the first year, and
has succeeded in getting his birds well mated, he should begin to cull
out the poor ones, and always try to keep his stock up to the highest
possible standard. It is the object of the breeder to produce as many
pairs of squabs from his stock as possible each year, consequently
wlicn it is discovered that a hen lays l)ut one eg^^, instead of two, or
is irregular in her laying, it is the wisest thing to get rid of her and
find a new mate for the male if he is a good, strong, healthy specimen.
Determining the Sex
OXE of the most bothersome things wliieh confront the breeder
is distinguishing the sex of the birds. Outwardly there is no
difference in the appearance of the male and female. Some of the
methods employed to secure this information are : examining the bones
of the OS sacrum, or vent; holding the head of the bird in one hand
and the feet in the other, then stretching them out — if the tail is
hugged downward the bird is a male, if it throws its tail it is a hen.
If an examination of the vent shows the breast-bone to l)e short, and
the bones of the vent wide apart, the bird is supposed to be a hen ; if
the bones are close together and the space between them small, it is
assumed that the bird is a male. These methods can not always be
relied upon, as I have often seen them fail.
By watching the birds closely 3'ou can determine without the
shadow of a doubt their sex. The male bird, as in the case of every
living thing, does the wooing and pursues the female. He does most
of the cooing, and is the most active. The hens are finer about the
heads, quiet and not combative like the males.
A mating pen is al)solutely necessary if your birds are not all
mated. A boy can make one, as it is nothing more than a box, 10 or
13 by 24 or 30 inches. A piece of wire netting in the middle divides
the box into two pens. Place a bird in each end. After they have
seen and cooed to each other four or five days, the separating netting-
can be removed, and the birds by this time will probably decide to stick
Usually the males are larger than the hens, but not always.
Food and Feeding
ONE of the most important details in this industry is feeding the
stock. ]\Iany breeders recommend using good screenings. I have
had better results by using sound red wheat, which is eaten up clean^
while on the other hand there is much of the screenings which the
birds refuse to eat. In buying grain, care should be taken to secure
Perspective View of Feeder partly in Section, showing Construction.
One foot wide, four feet lonp:, one foot deep or high.
This feeder is made of i^" pine, with tlie exceptions of lower side
boards where feed holes are cut, which is >4" thick x 3>^" wide. Upper
side boards are J/g" x 10^2" wide. Top and bottom are ^s" x 12" x 4 feet
long End pieces are 10 inches high, making it, with the top and bottom,
12 inches full height of feeder x 4 feet long. There is also one solid piece
of spruce 4x4, triangle shape, to go on the full length of bottom mside
to keep the feed from falling down faster then the birds eat it, also to
keep the rats from getting into the feeder. Feed holes are 1 '/a" wide
good, dry material. Xever feed white wheat. New wheat and new
corn are to be avoided as both create bowel trouble. There is nothing
better than good sonnd dry red wheat, and sound cracked corn. These
should be fed separately. Feed wheat three weeks and then give the
Ihrds a feeding of corn for a week, and then go back to wheat. Owing
to the fact that corn absorlis moisture quickly, it is best to buy only
a small quantity at a time, as it will produce sickness and disease of
the throat and bowels if fed to your stock when it is damp and musty.
"Wheat is not so apt to become moubly. l)ut it should be kept in a dry
corner. The corn should be cracked coarse, as if it is too fine there
is consideraljle loss in feeding it. A kernel cracked in two is about
the proper size. These two grains are the staple food for pigeons at
all times, although a little variety is often beneficial, such as Canada
peas, buckwheat, millet and hemp. The latter is a great tonic to weak
or sickly birds, and most l)reeders make it a rule to give their flocks
a feeding of hemp at least once a month. It is greatly relished by
the birds, but it is very stimulating and heating. The only green food
given is lettuce. This is not necessary. Stale Ijread crumljled up is
often relished, and not harmful occasionally.
]\Iuch food is often wasted l)y giving the flock too much. They
should only be given just as mucli as they eat u]) clean. If you find
there is some food left over, the next time you prepare it decrease the
amount. The more squabs your l)irds are raising the more food tliey
will eat. There should always be a box of fresh sharp sand near l)y.
Old mortar is also very good for the birds, and, if possible, it would
be good to have some on hand. It should be pounded up fine.
The feeding trough, as shown in the illustration, is much fancied
by many breeders.
Breeding and Hatching
AFTEIi your pigeons are well mated, they sliould be turned loose
• in the general house or flying pen. They will go together and
will soon begin to build their nests. After this is accomplished the
hen should begin to lay. Two eggs are all a hen should cover. She
will probably lay the two eggs within two days, although sometimes
two or three days intervene ])i'tweeii tliem. Some beginners are inclined
A Pair of Eggs
One Week Old
to put three eggs uncler a pair of birds to hatch. This is unwise, as
even if the three eggs prove fertile and produce three squabs, the
parent birds cannot properly feed three young ones, and one or two
of them are sure to be poorly fed and undersized.
The hen and the cock work on the hatching process equally —
that is the male does part of the work. The hen covers her eggs from
about four o'clock in the afternoon until ten the following morning,
when her lord and master comes to relieve her, and lie covers the nest
until four in the afternoon. It is well to examine the eggs on the
third or fourth day of incubation to ascertain, if possible, if they are
fertile. Hold them in the hand between the eye and a strong light.
If thev are infertile and useless they will be transparent and cloudless,
if fertile they will appear to be dark and clouded. Frequently you
will discover one egg to be fertile, and the other not. If you are
having many pairs hatcliing you will probably find these conditions
to prevail in another nest, and the fertile egg from each can be put
under one of the setting pairs, and the other broken up. The disap-
pointed couple will liegin in a week or two and have a couple of more
eggs to start anew.
It takes from sixteen to eighteen days to hatch the eggs. If at
the end of that time no squab l)reaks through, it is useless to allow the
parents to continue setting. While the eggs might have proven fertile
by the test on the third or fourth day, the young may have died in
embryo — in the shell. It frequently happens that only one bird is
hatched. After the parents have fed off their soft stuff for about a
week, it should be transferred to another nest where there is but one
squab. The parent birds which are known to be the best feeders should
be chosen, and the other pair, who will lie without any young ones then,
will soon be laying again.
Sometimes a mated pair will build and go to nest, having per-
formed all their duties, and not produce any eggs. In such a case
it is safe to assume that the hen is barren or too young. If possible,
secure two eggs from other nests where three have been laid, and set
them under the pair. They will prol^ably sit on them and raise the
young. If a hen goes to nest once or twice without laying any eggs,
she is undoiibtedly barren, and it is best to dispense with her.
Owing to the fact that the parents feed their young — the squabs
require no attention from the breeder. Al)out the time the eggs should
hatch, all the food eaten l)y the parent Ijirds becomes a chymey con-
sistency, called " pigeon's milk." This is fed to the yonng from the
beginning — before they even have their eyes opened. The old birds
take the bills of their offspring in their mouths, and by a peculiar
motion force it down their throats. This continues for some time,
and later, when the squabs are older tlieir parents feed them whole
grain. While the parent birds are in this soft food period, their young
should never be taken from them, as it will injure the liealth of the
old birds. They have to "feed off'" their milky substance, and if
they lose their young from any cause, the breeder should take young
birds, of about the same age to the nest and let them receive the
soft food of the squabless pair. They can then be replaced in their
own nest and will again l)e fed by their real parents.
It will often be noticed that one squab will get more food than
the other. Consequently it will l)ecome fat and plump while the
other will be half starved and scrawny. This can be equalized l)y
putting such a squab in a nest where the parents have not hatched
either egg, and have their supply of soft food for their young awaiting
to be used.
H u s i 71 g the S t c
CAEE should be taken in the selection of the place you intend to
build your pigeon house. You should try to have your building
warm in Winter and as cool as possible in Summer. It is very im-
portant that it sliould l)e dry. Dampness and continual moisture
are very injurious. Try to have your pigeon house face Southward.
If you have a barn on your place it will save you the expense
of erecting a separate building, as you may Ije able to convert a
portion of it into a pigeon loft. Try to make it as airy and light as
possible. It is necessary to have a flying pen or flight on the side
of the Ijuilding if you use a part of a l)arn. This can easily be done
by erecting substantial posts, say two l)y four, and then using one-
inch wire mesh netting. Make your place as large as possible as it
is only natural to suppose your flocks will increase and will need
all tlie room you can gQ\ later on.
Two Weeks Old
Three Weeks Old
Four Weeks Old
If you decide to Iniild a house exclusively for your pigeons I
could not reconiuiend a better one than I describe below. It was
only after careful study that I chose this style of building, and ex-
])erience has taught me that my judgment in this instance was surely
right. My houses are one hnndred feet long, and I will give you
dimensions based on that scale.
The building should be set upon locust posts or brick piers, about
fifteen inches from the ground, and on these rest the sills. Floor
beams should then be laid abont two and a half feet apart. A double
floor is necessary as it will keep out rats and dampness.
Tlie carpenter will of course put heavy paper between the double
flooring. The building should be sheathed, papered and sided. In
warm climates it is not necessary to have double walls, but in localities
where the Winters are severe it is well to have double walls as this
will aid greatly in keeping the building warm during the cold spells.
The house should be painted and have a good shingle roof. The
height of building should be ten feet in the rear and six feet in front.
This will give the roof a four-foot slant. If the roof is made too
flat it will leak very quickly.
A house one hundred feet long should be twelve feet wide.
Along the north side a passageway of three feet should run the en-
tire length of the building. There should be four partitions which
will cut up the building into five different pens, each eighteen feet.
Each pen will accommodate 75 pairs or 150 birds. This will leave a
space of ten feet at the end of the building which can be used as a
feed room or a picking room. Tlie pens should be separated from
the passageway by inch boards running from the floor to the roof.
The south side should have two windows with two six-light sashes
in each section or pen, and on the north side of the building there
should be four six light windoAvs. The windows should all slide so
they can be opened to any point desired. It is not necessary to have
the windows covered over with wire to prevent breakage, as they are
Inch boards running from the roof to the floor arc all that is
required to make the partitions or pens. The doors leading from the
passageway to each section or pen need only be made of wire screen
to prevent the escape of the birds.
The flying pen should lie Imilt from the south side of the
pigeon house. It should extend thirtv-two feet and run the length
of the huilding. The frame is made of spruce joists two hv four, and
should rise six feet from the ground. They should be set equal dis-
tances apart in three rows parallel with the side of the building, six
posts in each row. The outer row su])ports the end of the fly, thirty-
two feet from the Iniilding. Another row is set half way in toward
the house and a third row alongside of the building. These posts
should be so placed as to divide the flying pen into five sections —
each being eighteen feet wide and thirty-two long, thus giving each
lot of 150 birds a separate room and flying pen.
The netting to enclose this pen should be one-inch mesh. The
top of course has to be covered. Doors opening from the building
into each section are necessary. There should be a board about ten
inches in height nailed around the bottom of the flying pen, close to
the ground. There should also l)e a number of perches in each pen
for the birds to rest upon.
The photographs will show how simply the nests are constructed.
Thev are made of long lengths of boxing board, fourteen inches wide.
These form the shelving — really the top and l)ottom of the next
boxes. Then pieces, ten inches by fourteen, are set in the proper
distance apart. The finished nests will be fourteen inches from front
to back, ten inches from top to bottom and twenty inches wide. After
all these are made, take boards one half inch thick, and ten inches
wide, and running from the floor to the top of the highest shelf, and
nail against the nests. This will half close them, that is, leave only
ten inches open. This affords the birds privacy and protection and
they always build their nests behind these boards. Squabs grow larger
and thrive better in dark corners. Only one nest box is necessary
for each pair. The parent l)irds will start to building a new nest in
the opposite corner of their box, after their young are two weeks old.
PIGEOXS like any other members of the aninuil kingdom are sub-
ject to ills and ailments. A breeder who has a flock of good
size expects some sickness among his birds occasionally. He should
be alert, and try to treat such cases in the early stages. If the bird
or birds do not respond quickly to the treatment given, the breeder
will find it is easiest and best to do away with them. It does not
pay to give too much attention to any one bird no matter what the
tr()ul)le is. After a bird has Ijeen sick and recovers, it is often a long
time before it will be in condition to l)egin breeding again. It is
better to try to avoid sickness by keeping your stock healthy by having
good airy houses, giving them the proper food and keeping them
clean. The houses should Ije frequently whitewashed and kerosene
used as a sprinkler as often as possil)le. It is easier to prevent disease
than it is to cure it.
Pigeons are sul)ject to enteritis, roup, canker, cholera, going
light, egg-bound, small-pox, wing disease, worms and colds.
E n t c
Tins is an inflammation of the bowels and usually follows a cold.
'J'he bird thus affected has a puffed up condition of the feathers,
and there is a l)loody discharge of mucus. Give a few drops of
paregoric three times a ilay and put the bird in a warm place.
THIS is a very contagious disease, and should Ije stamped out as
quickly as ])ossilde. The l)irds affected witli it should be re-
moved from the others, as it will quickly spread. Sometimes a num-
ber of birds will be ill with it at once and the breeder will l)e at a
loss to account for its appearance. It is often caused by severe
changes in the tem|)erature, especially if the weather has been dry.
warm and sunny and then changes to damp, dull and chilly.
Koup is miasmatic, as it appears suddenly. It is a catarrhal
disease, and affects the mucous meml)ranes of the throat, nostrils and
mouth. There is a discharge of mucous matter from the nostrils,
and if neglected it becomes very offensive. When there is difficulty
in l)reathing. make a pill of l)lack pepper and l)utter. equal parts of
each, the size of an ordinary ])ea and thrust down tlie throat, which
slioultl also be swalibed with a solution of chlorate of potash. A so-
lution of peroxide of hydrogen should be used to wash the nostrils
and the inside of the mouth, when there is a discharge of mucus from
Is a form of diphtheria and is accompanied by high fever, congestion,
swelling of the blood vessels of the throat and small white ulcers,
which rapidly spread over the mouth and throat. Canker is likely
to appear when there is a long period of damp cold weather. Birds
affected should be isolated to prevent the disease spreading to others.
Tlie nests occupied by them should l)e thoroughly disinfected. When
squabs get canker it does not pay to treat them if the disease has
made much progress. If an examination shows canker spots in the
mouth, they should be painted with a solution of lemon juice and
sugar, or get some powdered hurnt alum and apply the same way.
Place a small piece of alum in the drinking water. Before placing
the affected birds back with the rest of your flock you should be
perfectly satisfied that the birds are cured. When you discover some
of your pigeons have canker, remove them immediately and put a
little alum in the drinking water of the whole flock, and thus prob-
al)ly prevent the disease attacking them.
C h I e r a
THIS is caused by feeding the stock new wheat, foul screenings,
musty corn, or some other improper food, and it is known as
a warm weather disease. The affected bird mopes, becomes weak,
and the plumage gets dull. There is a diarrhoea of a greenish color,
which can be stopped by putting a tablespoonful of quicklime in
about two gallons of the drinking water. Change of food will often
effect a remedy, and some breeders place a little prepared chalk
in the drinking water. This disease is not hard to cure, and if care
is taken in the food given the breeder will not be much bothered
VieTv, showing Two and Four Weeks Squab
Going L i g h
THIS is an expression among pigeon-raisers for a disease which
is in reality a wasting away. It is accompanied by diarrhoea,
whicli clings to the vent, soiling the feathers and making a very
dirty condition. The affected bird's plumage becomes discolored,
its eyes become dull and its motions uncertain and erratic. The
breast-bone will become sharp and prominent, and the bird will lose
its plumpness. ^Many breeders, when they see indications of this
disease, pluck out the entire tail, and I have seen beneficial results
from this. A grain of quinine and two cod liver oil capsules should
be given daily and mix a small quantity of hemp seed with the (u-
dinary food. The recovery is generally complete when the tail has
grown in again. This of course takes time, and the birds are " out
of business *' quite a little while.
THIS trouble often occurs with young hens. Usually the first
Qgg a hen lays is jjassed without trouble, but the second one
often is clogged. A hen thus distressed loses the use of her legs,
and the breeder knows immediately what is the matter. The ^gg can
be located by feeling the abdomen. The passage way should be rubbed
with vaseline or sweet oil and the finger introduced as far as possible.
Extreme care must be taken not to break the Qgg while inside. Then
hold the abdomen over steam, which will thoroughly warm and relax
the parts. She should then be placed upon her nest where she will
soon pass the Qgg. Before steaming the hen it is good to give a little
molasses internally. Tin's will assist her.
Is very contagious and care should be taken to prevent it spreading.
Birds so affected should be kept by themselves. It first appears
in the form of yiiiall sores around the head and quickly spreads to
the neck making a large mass of scabhy sores, which should be washed
with a solution of ])lue vitriol. This will usually effect a cure, and
prevent it spreading.
W / n g Disease
Is a formation of a tumor, which causes a stiffening of the joints
of the wing, preventing the bird from flying. If you notice
that any of your birds have difficulty in flying and are inclined to
drag one wing on the ground, you will undoubtedly discover a small
inflamed spot on the wing joint.
This grows larger and larger, if not attended to. The tumor
becomes filled with a cheesy, yellow uuitter, which finally l)reaks
through the skin. The l)est remedy is to paint the sore with iodine,
or rub it with strong spirits of camphor two or three times a day.
Often after a cure is effected the wing will remain stiff and useless.
but the bird will still l)e useful as a lu'ecder although it will be com-
pelled to make his nest on the floor.
SOMETIMES pigeons will be eating as usual, and not appear to
Ijc doing well. In such cases watch their dung, and you will
probably find worms. One of the Ijest remedies is garlic. In the
morning, before feeding, give a piece of garlic the size of a l)ean.
or make a pill of butter and areca nut and give the sick l)ird a ca|)-
sule of castor oil for a day or so. Some breeders use a snudl piece
of gum aloes size of a pea.
AN be remedied by giving a one grain ([uinine ])ill and a capsule
of cod liver oil twice a day. Tliose uu-dicines are also good to
Passage on North Side of Building, showing Wire Door leading
to Breeding Pen
give as a tonic during the moulting season, when the birds seem to
be moping and not shedding welL The sooner the moulting is over
the quicker the birds will begin breeding again. As a stimulant,
hemp and canary seed should Ije fed during this period.
As a tonic, it is well to have some Douglass Mixture put in the
drinking vessels during the moulting season. A tablespoonful should
be put into a pint of the drinking water. It is nuide by dissolving
a half pound of green co])peras in two gallons of water; then add
one ounce of sulphuric acid.
M a n u
IX Iniilding a pigeon house the perches should be so placed as to be
able to scrape and gather up the droppings of the birds. Pigeon
manure is much in demand, and all should be saved and collected.
There is nothing richer as a fertilizer, but it brings too high a price
to be used extensively for that purpose. All tanneries use it. and
it can be easily sold. 'J'he cleaner it is the more it brings. Try to
keep it free from sticks, straw and tobacco stems. Absorl:)ent should
be spread on the dropping boards. It should be gathered twice a
week and kept in barrels. It is better uot to sell it until a quantity
has Ijeen accumulated.
EVP]X the feathers of the l)irds can be turned into profit. They
should be collected and put into bags. The feathers the birds
drop during the moulting season, together with those plucked from
the squabs, should be accumulated and steamed. When you have
a quantity on hand they can be sold very easily. The wing and tail
feathers should not be kept as there is no denmnd for them, and
they are without value.
Liice^ and how to Kxterminate them
THE squab raiser must keep a sharp lookout for lice. Xaturallj
thev are more prevalent during the warm weather, but they
will haunt ^'our loft or pen winter and summer if you are lax in
keeping your plant clean. The more manure in a house the more
lice there will be. Plenty of water batlis should l^e provided. These
will be used and appreciated by the old birds, but the young ones,
not knowing how to l:)athe. will l)i' pestered a great deal. Ifany
squabs are lost by lice. They become sickly and die off quickly.
I recommend the liberal use of kerosene oil. It does not hurt
or injure tlie birds and is sure death to the lice. It should be freely
sprinkled over the empty nests, corners and perches. It should be
squirted into all cracks and openings. A man should try to keep
his flock as healthy as possilde, and one of the most essential things
is cleanliness. If some of your birds seem to be lice ridden, and
cannot shake them off, it is best to get rid of the birds. Your whole
flock might become contaminated and your troul)lfs would increase
The constant apjdication of kerosene will keep your place in
PURE fresh water is one of the most important things the breeder
should look after. Impure, stagnant water causes disease very
quickly. If possible, it is best to iiave a flow of water continually
running thrimgli the pigeon house. In most cases this is not practical
without a good deal of expense. The drinking water should be so
arranged that the bird cannot bathe in it. Drinking fountains, so
constructed as to leave only a little water exposed, are much favored
by some breeders. An ordinary drinking pan can be covered with
wire netting, so that the birds can only drink from it. If the
drinking pan is flat and open, the birds will batlie in it. and thus
Bathing pans should be made of galvanized iron, twenty inches
in diameter and abont five inches deep. They shonld be filled at
least twice a day. The oftener the better. This is the only way
a bird may keep itself free from lice, as they do not take dirt baths.
The more lice a bird has, the more frequently the bird will want
to bathe. The Ijatliing pans should be kept out in the yard all year
When the batliing })ans are put in the yard, tlie breeder should
see that the birds do not drink out of it after some of them have
bathed in it, as it invariably will cause sickness.
THE breeder who is anxious to have his birds in good health
should always see that a supply of salt is accessible. It should
always be handy for the l)irds who will take it as they require it.
Salt is as necessary as water. Eock salt is the best kind to use, as
fine salt would probably be quickly devoured with injurious results;
as it is easier for the birds to eat, they are inclined to take too much.
Place the piece of rock salt where the birds can easily get at it, and
it will answer all purposes. Some breeders, however, prefer to use
table salt, getting it in five or ten pound bags. It should then be
thoroughly wet and placed in an oven and baked. It will bake into
a solid cake. The bag is then cut aw^ay and it is placed within reach
of the pigeons. The caked condition of the salt prevents the birds
from eating too much.
A composition known as a '' salt-cat '" is used by many i)igeon
raisers. One way of mixing the above is to take about a half peck
each of brick-maker's loam, sharp sand, and old lime mortar, tlie
latter, of course, should be free from hair, add to this one-half pound
caraway seed, one-half pound coriander, one-half pound of crushed
cummin seed and one pint of salt. These should all be mixed to-
gether, and dampened with stale urine until it is about like stiff
mortar. This should then be made into cakes and baked in the rays
of the sun. It can then be placed in the pigeon house the same as
the rock salt, and the birds wall soon be eating it.
IT is the natural instinct of the pigeons about to lay. to build
their own nests, and this desire should be gratified by placing
witliin their reach material with which they can build. Tobacco
stems are favored l)y many breeders as they can be secured very
easil}', often without cost from cigar makers. These should be thrown,
a few at a time, in one corner of the breeding house. The birds
will tal^e as many as they require and build tlieir nests in a natural
way. Tlie tol)acco stems are also good in ridding the setting l)irds
WHEX about four weeks old, squabs are ready for market.
Some parent birds fatten their young more quickly than
others, and in some cases the squaljs are ready when twenty-five
days old. If some of tlie young ones do not appear to l)e in good
condition it is well to leave them in the nest for another week. The
abdomen sliouhl l)e liard and firm, and with a little practice the
breeder will soon l)e able to judge when squabs are in the proper
condition. Wlien they begin to leave the nest it is time they should
be killed and dressed for market.
Squabs should be collected and boxed up the day before you
intend killing them. Xo food should be given them, so their crops
will be empty. They look better and sell better if there is no food
in their crops. If by chance you discover there is some grain or
food in them, it can be squeezed out with the fingers.
Some breeders kill the s(|ual)s by grasping the neck in the left
hand, the fingers of which clutch the bird's body. The neck is given
a gentle firm pull and then is pushed back, thus l)reaking the spine,
instantly killing the bird.
Another way, and which I consider a l)etter one, is cutting the
jugular vein from inside. The bird should be firmly held in the
left hand, the wings and feet should be held tightly, and tlie head
held between the first finger and thumb. A sharp-pointed knife
is then inserted in the mouth, and the jugular vein at the hack of
the liead can be easily severed.
If many birds are to be killed it will be convenient if an empty
barrel is placed in the killing room. From the top of this barrel
hang about four cords, nine inches long each, with a slip knot in
the end. Take the squab and pass the noose around its legs, then
insert the knife in the l)ack of its mouth and draw it forward. This
will cut the brain and cause instant death. Drop the bird on the
inside of the barrel, and let it hang there until all the blood runs
out. Four ])irds can be killed in turn quickly this way. The pluck-
ing of the feathers should be started as soon as the bird is bloodless.
This work should be done quickly, but carefully, as it is important
not to tear the skin or flesh. The head and tail feathers should
be pulled first as they come out easier when the bird is just killed.
When the squabs are picked they should be thrown into a tub
of cold Avater, slightly salted, and left to remain there thirty or forty
minutes. This plumps them out and gives them a good appearance,
and drives out the animal heat.
The feet and moutlis of the l)irds sliould l)e washed, and there
should be no sign of dirt or blood on any squab. The wings should
be folded across the back and the left leg of one Inrd should be tied
to the right leg of another. C*are should he taken to have two birds
of about the same size and plumpness tied together.
It is well to set aside a certain day of the week as a " killing
day," and then kill only on that day. The squabs can be collected
the night before, and kept without food twelve to fifteen hours.
Shipping and Selling
IX winter or cold weather the squabs should be ship})ed to market,
packed in strong boxes, which should lie so constructed as to
permit the circulation of aii'. The birds should be laid in layers,
breast clown. Do not put more than six layers of birds in a box,
as they are apt to be crushed and flattened. Place the poorest birds
at the bottom, leaving the best ones for the top.
In summer place a layer of cracked ice in the bottom of the
l)ox, and then a layer of squabs, and thus alternate until the box is
filled. The ice will naturally melt, and the water dripping ddwn
on the birds will keep them cool and moist.
Each squab raiser has to find his own customers. There is such
a demand, however, that he will experience little difficulty in this
direction. If you ship to a commission merchant you will get ten
or twenty per cent, less for your stock. As he has to make a profit
when he sells them, he is compelled to pay you less than he gets.
It is often possible to build up a trade of your own among
hotels, clubs and private families. To do this it is necessary to be
able to supply a certain number each week. Private families are the
most desirable as they pay the largest prices.
Squabs bring such a small price during the summer months
that it is considered best to raise your summer squabs to breeders.
By winter they will have mated, and will then begin to produce
A Chapter of Hints
Do not expect to get rich in six months in the squab business.
Success will come to you in time, but you must have patience.
Do not make much commotion when you go among your birds. Do
your work quietly, and your pigeons will not become frightened
when you approach them.
If you find some of your birds very combative, and always trying
to pick a fight with the others, it is best to get rid of them as soon
as possible. They disturb the whole flock. If you find a bird to
be sickly, and cannot determine just what is the matter with it, I
think it should be destroyed so as not to infect the rest of your birds.
Use one-inch mesh wire netting in building flying pens. This
will keep out rats and sparrows.
Clean out the nest boxes and pons at least once a week with
a steel scraper or trowel. After the nests are cleaned, a hoe is used
to loosen the droppings on the floor, and all should be shoveled into
a barrel or basket which should be kept in the passage way or a
Drinking fountains, bath pans, scrapers, etc., can be bought
at almost any poultry-supply store.
Table of Contents
Starting -with good Stock
Determining the Sex
Food and Feeding
Breeding and Hatching
Housing the Stock
Diseases - - - .
Going Light ■
Feathers - . - -
Lice, and how to Exterminate them
Water . - - -
Salt ... -
Shipping and Selling
A Chapter of Hints -
PEC 22 1904